8 Weeks of Running – Running Journal, Cross-Training, and Nutrition: Week 3

Week 3: Incorporating Yoga in to my Running Training

Week 3 has arrived and I’ve stepped up my mileage a notch. I have moved ahead of my training schedule and added in a 6 mile run, which surprisingly felt great. I had to consciously slow down my normal pace to ensure I did not lose steam over the trek and hovered around a 10-minute mile for the duration of the run. Alexis, one of our fabulous MLS instructors, was my running buddy and the 6 miles went by much faster than I expected.

Once I got home from the run, I practiced a few restorative yoga poses and rolled out my feet and calves with tennis balls to help avoid overly stiff joints and sore muscles the next day. I also benefited from an Epsom salt bath which helps reduce excess inflammation in the body and aids in muscle recovery.

Yoga has proven invaluable to me as I progress towards my running goals because it has helped deter the usual side effects of running, such as hip, knee, and low back pain. It is also an effective cross-training method for running because it develops strength and stabilization throughout the whole body, as well as lengthens muscles that get shortened and overused while running.

I typically practice Vinyasa style yoga classes because they are quick paced and athletic. But as I continue to increase my mileage over the next 4 weeks, I plan to refocus my yoga practice to a more restorative approach. Restorative yoga, styles of Yin yoga, and Iyengar yoga move slower and utilize long holds of poses. These styles aid in muscle recovery, giving the body time and space to improve flexibility and increase circulation, without over-stressing joints.

The following flow is one of my favorite yoga stretching sequences that I religiously perform after runs. It stretches out the back line of the body by lengthening the back extensors, hamstrings, calves, and feet. It also helps to open up shortened muscles and ligaments through the front line of the body by getting into the hip flexors, quads, hips, shoulders, and chest. Hold each stretch below for 90 seconds and repeat sequence the on the other side.

yoga-stretch-sequence

Downward-facing Dog

  1. Start with hands on the floor, slightly wider than shoulder distance apart, fingers spread wide
  2. Reach the tailbone to the sky and root down through hands and heels, creating as much length as possible down both sides of the body
  3. Hug the triceps to the mid-line of the body, push the tops of the thighs back

3-Legged Dog (from Downward-facing Dog)

  1. Next, lift the right leg up and open the hips and pelvis to the right
  2. Keep the shoulders square by anchoring down through the right arm and hand
  3. Release the right leg and repeat on the other side.
  4. When flexing the foot and try to get your heel as close to your glutes as possible to create a deeper stretch down the thigh and hip flexor

Half Pigeon

  1. From 3-Legged Dog, straighten the right leg and square off both of your hips
  2. Tuck the right knee into the chest and then place the shin down onto the mat
  3. Flex the foot and try to get the shin as close to parallel to the top of the mat as possible
  4. Once situated in this position try to ease yourself down onto your forearms, creating a deeper stretch into the hips and glutes. You can also tuck the toes of the extend leg to lift the knee off the floor to stretch the front of the hip flexor even more

King Pigeon (from Half Pigeon)

  1. Come back onto the hands and bend the left knee, reaching the foot toward the ceiling
  2. Rotate your body to the left and grab your left ankle with your left hand
  3. Actively press your ankle into your grip to deepen the stretch down the left quad and hip flexor
  4. Square off your shoulders to the front, which will develop a stretch through the front of the shoulders and chest